Power Voice Winners
by Martin Veres
A little while on from International Women's Day, we're happy to report that our event was a big success, and we're excited to share with you the winners of our writing competition. But, in addition to the winners, there were a lot of other people who submitted great entries, so we'd like to extend a big thanks to them. A hearty thank you as well to our two performers, Gabe Journey Jones and Adara Enthaler, and to our special guest speaker, Dr Sarah Nicholson (who we'll be interviewing a little down the track – so look forward to that!). Another big thanks to Wollongong Art Gallery for hosting the event and Woolworths for providing sponsorship towards the event.
Simone Foley and Charlotte Smee took out the prose and poetry sections of the competition, respectively, and their winning entries are below.
Finding my Femininity
Sometimes when I wake up I can stare at my wall for hours. I stare at that wall and count the little bumps in the paint until the wall isn’t a wall anymore. It’s kind of like when you say your name over and over until it just doesn’t make any sense. That’s how I feel about my life sometimes. The first nonsensical event was me being born a girl.
My childhood was less than conventional. I loved mermaids and fairies. I had long flowy hair that everyone adored, until I decided in second grade that boys like long hair. So I chopped it off.
At an age I was meant to learn the difference between vowels and consonants I learnt not to trust a man.
I learnt how to be a boy in a girl’s body, growing up with my father. I starved myself. Not only of food but of emotion. I had already lost myself at an age that was supposed to be filled with self-discovery.
At 16 I begun to find myself. I looked up to Frida Kahlo and realised that my beauty manifested itself within my creativity, instead of being defined by the gap between my thighs. This new sense of self was promptly torn down by three boys at a party who decided they had rights over my body. I stared out the window, feeling as though I was in a movie, as the police officer drove me to the city where a male doctor poked and prodded at my body to find the evidence to convict these boys. I never did have the confidence to take them to court.
I got home from the hospital at 10 in the morning and proceeded to stare at my wall for weeks on end.
Reality became nothing, just as my bedroom wall. I floated through the next few years as though my life were a dream. At 17 I sold the remainder of my soul for the warmness I could only find in snow. I was the shadow of a woman. The millions of intricate pieces that shaped me into who I was, stolen and sold and thrown away.
At 18 I was admitted into a psychiatric unit. The remainder of my femininity was lost in my diagnosis.
I realised at this point that I had a choice. I had the choice to let these men define who I was or to progress past what had happened to me. To define my own future as a young woman.
I saw past the wall for the first time in my life. I thought I was alone in my suffering, however through reaching out I met an abundance of strong women who had similar stories. Women taught me how to trust. Women empower me. A woman nurse held my hand as I bared my soul to a room full of people. A woman police officer stopped off at McDonald's to buy me an ice cream cone after I experienced one of the most traumatic nights of my life. A group of women I was impatient with in hospital took me under their wing, stroked my hair and built up my confidence. A beautiful, strong woman took me into her home and made me feel more comfortable than I ever had in my life.
As women, we must come together. Because when we come together we can progress past the affliction, heartache and sadness we feel too often feel. With sexual assault at an all-time high, it is paramount that survivors come together to tell their stories to inspire other young women.
Today I am grateful for what happened to me, for it shaped me into the woman that I am now.
My answer to live fully and beautifully despite my past, is to live as though I only have a few hours left on this Earth. I have forgiven all of those who hurt me and I have so much joy and love for life.
Now, when I wake up in the morning and find myself staring at that bedroom wall, I roll over and grab my phone. I then proceed to call any one of the beautiful women who water my roots, strengthen my soul and build me up to face the day.
Do Not Mourn Them
who’ve been told
they are magnificent
a forest of pinstripes
and blue neckties
“don’t think too hard about it, sweetheart”
“objectively, it’s a great piece of art”
great deflections for small people
who don’t want to think
of the dark, dank mess
below the canopy.
we mourn the art lost,
tainted by the weeds
who will stop at nothing
to take what’s theirs
art for art’s sake.
power for power’s sake.
there’s no loss here
do not mourn.
for in the arms
of the rotting, twisted
there are starved redwoods,
waiting to be heard.
do not feed them
take this chance, this time
push through the forest
push for progress
there are so many more
Written by SCWC
Posted on March 20, 2018